PSF statement on yesterday’s police crackdown on Left student and youth activists

Beyond these hurdles a resurgent and united student struggle will march onwards Fight against police brutality and the shrinking of protest spaces

On the 26th of March, 2016, left student and youth organizations (SFI-AISF-AISA-AIYF-DYFI-RYA-PSF) had called for a protest demonstration at Dadar Station (East). The call was made to protest against the events unfolding at HCU. The Mumbai Police denied permission for the protest demonstration, and kept driving away all activists who were regrouping at Dadar station to figure things out. This was the second such instance in a month when permission to protest at Dadar station was denied. In response students and activists assembled at the Matunga police station to file a complaint letter.

At 7pm, while entering the Matunga police compound, some police members beat up, shoved, and dragged students and activists, as well as hit them with lathis. This included women comrades who were manhandled. Some of our colleagues in PSF were roughed up, and members of SFI, DYFI and AISA were beaten up severely. Inside the police station where 17 students and activists were detained and charged, some were beaten up and sustained severe injuries. They were finally released after being charge-sheeted post midnight. This drastic action by the Mumbai police and the admission of some police officers (as ascertained by accounts from our colleagues) was a result of specific orders given to the police to squash protests, as well as a reaction from the police personnel who said that they were overworked and frustrated after guarding various processions over the past few days.

The incompetence and callousness of the current government in power to deal with opposing voices, the repeated attempts to crackdown the fight of the ‘Justice For Rohith’ movement, and the bankruptcy of its arguments while answering the issues raised by the students’ movement implies that they are unable to function in a democracy. It highlights one thing above all- that the ruling party in the country is unwilling to negotiate and engage with the voices democratically opposing it. And one of the strongest voices of opposition which we find today is that of a united student movement which we are part of in recent times. It is therefore unsurprising that the brunt of their draconian actions have to be faced by the student movement in the country. The use of state machinery by filing cases against students and activists in Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai West Bengal, and Kerala, and the denial of permissions to protest, is part of a long standing strategy to wear down the student movement, by a war of attrition. And it is here that we must see hope to carry on with our struggle; to be part of this student movement that we see today.

The Progressive Students’ Forum condemns such police brutality, and actions which have resulted in the reduction of space available for peaceful protests in Mumbai, as well as the police action taken on protesting students in Kerala. We urge students at TISS and elsewhere to walk hand in hand with the students at HCU. As part of a resurgent and united students’ movement, now more than ever before, we must support our friends in HCU. We must be a part of the movement to support their demand for justice to be met in the case of the institutionalized murder of Rohith Vemula, to protest and remove the presence of caste oppression in our higher educational institutes, and the justice which is to be guaranteed to Dalit Scholars at HCU.


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